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Comparing Healthcare: The UK vs. Australia

01st Feb, 2018

Comparing Healthcare: The UK vs. Australia

In July 2017, the NHS was ranked the world's number one healthcare system in a survey carried out by the Commonwealth Fund, with Australia coming in at a very respectable second place.

In this article, we aim to review and highlight the key differences between the healthcare systems in both the United Kingdom and Australia. 

Why is a comparison even needed?

A fair question, considering both countries are at opposite ends of the planet. However, with so many cultural similarities and an increasing number of people travelling/moving between the two places, it's something that we feel particularly necessary to explain, especially for those from the UK taking healthcare jobs in Australia. 

Let's start with the main healthcare services in each country: the NHS and Medicare.

What is the NHS?

The UK's National Health Service (NHS) is a free healthcare service established in 1948 and designed to provide mostly free healthcare to UK residents. The service is 98.8% funded from tax and National Insurance contributions. 

What is Medicare?

Medicare is the universal healthcare system in Australia and the primary form of access to healthcare services in the country. The system is publicly funded (Taxpayers in Australia pay 1.5 percent of their income to Medicare. However, if you're a higher earner, you can pay 2.5 percent).

The service is operated by the Department of Human Services and gives Australian residents access to subsidised treatment from a wide range of healthcare professionals, including medical practitioners, midwives and allied health professionals throughout the country. 

What are the differences in what you get with the NHS and Medicare?


For most people under Medicare, care within state-funded hospitals is fully covered for 100% of the cost. However, only 75% of the cost is covered for primary care services (such as visits to the GP).

Should an Australian citizen wish to use private healthcare services, Medicare will cover the cost up to what state-funded hospital care would incur - the rest is up to the citizen to pay, either by themselves or via a private insurance policy. Medicine in Australia is, again, partly paid by Medicare and partly paid by the citizen. 

Medicare will not cover dentistry, optometry or transport via ambulance. However, many Australians choose to take out a private insurance policy to cover these services.


UK citizens pay tax and National Insurance in order to fund their National Health Service. Despite the service being predominantly taxation funded, roughly 1.2% of NHS funds come from patient charges. 

The NHS entitles UK residents with access to the full range of services offered, including primary care. However, in order to access NHS treatment that is not from a GP or Accident and Emergency, a patient must be referred to the relevant specialists at a specific NHS hospital. 

Unlike Medicare in Australia, the NHS does not pay towards prescription (medicine) charges and each prescription filled costs £8.20. Some citizens are exempt from prescription charges and those using regular medication can purchase a pre-payment card for £104 per annum (or £29.10 for 3 months). 

Why move to Australia?

UK citizens looking for Australian healthcare jobs will find moving to Australia an exciting change of pace from life in the United Kingdom. With everything from aged care jobs and nursing roles and medical imaging, there's plenty of opportunity for healthcare professionals looking to expand their experience and skillset.

Aside from the obvious differences in weather and season times, Australia is much bigger than the UK, with breathtaking landscapes and incredible opportunities for exploration. With city, coastal and remote locations, you'll be sure to find a healthcare job ‘down under’ that you'll love.

Why move to the UK?

With such a high demand for experienced healthcare professionals, there has never been a better time to start a life across the seas in the United Kingdom. The NHS always has a plethora of exciting openings for doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, health science staff and non-clinical professionals throughout the country.

It's easy to find great accommodation and assistance with the move when you work with a reliable specialist healthcare recruitment agency

For such a small island, the United Kingdom is packed with endless things to do. It's rich in history and whether you've been there for two or twenty years, you'll always discover something new.

Healthcare jobs with Your World

Thinking of making the move across the seas and starting a new role in the UK or Australia? With offices in London, Dublin and Sydney, our specialist team can help you to find the perfect role and create a smooth, hassle-free transition.

Contact us in the UK or speak to our team in Australia today to find out more about how we can help your healthcare goals become a reality.